The post-mortem of England’s humiliating Ashes defeat has been brutal in the English press after Australia’s series-clinching win by an innings and 14 runs in the Boxing Day test on Tuesday.
England collapsed to 68 all out before lunch on day three at the MCG and have to play another two tests against a buoyant Australian side targeting world domination under new skipper Pat Cummins.
The knives have come out from irate English cricket writers after Joe Root’s England team slumped to an embarrassing loss that has been lambasted by several former players.
However, no analysis was more damning of England’s frail batting than the assessment of The Telegraph’s Oliver Brown, who said the eldest daughter of Australian opener David Warner had a better defensive technique.
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“You felt pained on behalf of the Melburnians who had turned up hoping for 90 overs of England resistance, only to see these bungling tourists blown away. Even Australia’s players looked faintly shocked by the speed with which the end came. David Warner might reasonably have expected to chase down a target, but instead he spent the afternoon on a sun-soaked outfield, teaching his three daughters how to bat. His eldest, Ivy Mae, is just six, but already seems to have a more cultivated defensive technique than some of England’s middle order,” Brown wrote.
Daily Mail cricket correspondent Paul Newman said heads must roll after England lost the series in less than 12 days, starting with head coach Chris Silverwood and Root as skipper.
Root has still been excellent with the bat with in 2021, albeit while an Ashes century in Australia eludes him, but his captaincy and tactics have been heavily scrutinised.
“The problems run far deeper than this most miserable of Ashes thrashings, but that doesn’t mean heads won’t roll. They must,” Newman wrote.
“Root, after his third failed attempt as skipper to win the Ashes, must go back to the ranks for his own good and the lack of any viable alternatives should not be a reason for him to carry on.
“Someone will have to step up, even if it means England going all Chris Cowdrey and plucking someone from outside the squad.
“Regrettably, Silverwood has to go, too. His post-match interview on Tuesday in which he said there are ‘still positives to be taken’ emphasised that he is out of his depth. The only positives from this tour are the six Covid cases in the camp that could jeopardise the rest of this series.”
Sir Geoffrey Boycott, the legendary former England captain and stout opener, agreed that Root should no longer be the skipper.
“I don’t mind him living in cuckoo land but stop trying to kid us. If he really believes what he says then maybe it is time he gave up the captaincy of the England cricket team,” Boycott wrote in his column for The Telegraph.
“The facts are staring us all in the face, except Joe doesn’t want to see it. England can’t bat. Our bowling is ordinary. The catching, particularly by the wicketkeeper Buttler, has been poor.
“Joe’s captaincy lacks imagination. His team selection and decision-making has been staggeringly off the mark.
“Many of us are tired of these interviews where Joe says England will learn from a bad day or Joe says he expects a response after a poor performance.
“We have had enough of this rubbish. Stop treating us ex-players and cricket supporters as idiots.”
English cricket’s focus on white-ball formats – they are the reigning 50-over world champions – and neglecting its beloved domestic red-ball competition, the County Championship, have been blamed for the test team’s failures, among other concerns.
Andrew Miller, of ESPNcricinfo, said England’s struggles threatens the longer format, globally, after a “pathetic” Ashes campaign in the series that had long been considered the game’s greatest rivalry.
“On Tuesday, that bubble finally burst,” Miller wrote. “After weeks of barely suppressed panic behind the scenes, England’s capitulation in Melbourne deserves to be test cricket’s very own Lehman Brothers moment – the final, full-frontal collapse of an institution so ancient, and previously presumed to be so inviolable, that it may require unprecedented emergency measures to prevent the entire sport from tanking.”
Miller said the humiliation in Australia has exposed bigger issues and pointed the finger firmly at English cricket chief executive Harrison.
“Silverwood is just another symptom of English cricket’s wider malaise. From the outset, and irrespective of his theoretical influence, he was only ever an uninspiring over-promotion from within the team’s existing ranks – more than anything, a recognition of how undesirable the role of England head coach has become in recent years.
“In an era of gig-economy opportunities on the T20 franchise circuit – when barely a day goes by without Andy Flower, the architect of England’s last truly great test team, being announced as Tashkent Tigers’ batting consultant in the Uzbekistan Premier League – who wants or needs the 300-hotel-nights-a-year commitment required to oversee a side that, like an overworked troupe of stadium-rock dinosaurs, fears that the moment it takes a break from endless touring, everyone will forget they ever existed in the first place?”